Tell us about yourself.
I work as an office manager and also as an executive assistant to our COO, Maris Mendes. I’ve worked in education before, in higher ed, and have done a lot of secretarial, administrative and executive assistant work, but this is a whole different environment for me. Before, I was supporting university professionals, now I’m working with educators in early childhood education.
What inspires you about education?
I believe in what Dr. Montessori said about education in her 1937 lectures in Copenhagen: "Education is the best weapon for peace.”
How did you discover Montessori?
I discovered Montessori by applying for a job at Higher Ground. Now, I am enrolled in the 3-6 Early Childhood (Children’s House) Teacher Certification Course through Prepared Montessorian.
For me, it was to better understand Montessori, but as I learn, I’ll be able to incorporate Montessori philosophy into my position here. Everybody here is so willing to help you advance! They look at the big picture and the future ahead, and I just really appreciate the opportunity to learn while working.
I also recently found out that I went to Montessori kindergarten in South Korea when I was young. I have had Montessori beliefs within me my whole life!
How does Montessori philosophy inspire your daily life?
As I learn more about Montessori philosophy, I want to improve myself to become a better me, but I am also working toward transferring that positive energy to my six-year-old daughter. I want to prepare her for the future world, and I know that Montessori philosophy is the key to opening that door.
After my training, I can already see that I've changed a lot of things I do with my daughter. Whenever I was helping her with something, for example, if she couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t give her time. Everything was rush, rush, rush. Now, I can see that I’m a little more patient with her. I’ll let her be for a little bit so she doesn’t feel pressed for help. There are many other things, too, I’ve come across within a very short time where I can see I’m wanting to be more Montessorian.
Do you have a favorite Montessori quote?
"The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities." ("The Absorbent Mind")
What have you learned from your time working at Higher Ground thus far?
I’ve experienced a lot in my life. I put in a lot of work with whatever was given to me, but when I came to Higher Ground, all that experience I had seemed so normal — everybody here has such a bigger background and is so motivated!
I think I was losing that motivation a little bit. As you grow older, you can sort of depreciate all that you have gained, but this team has brought a new motivation back into my life. My appreciation is all coming back, and I feel more inspired to learn and work! Working at Higher Ground is a new chapter in my life, and it's been a great gift.
What do you enjoy most about working with your teammates?
Everyone at Higher Ground is motivated in their work and willing to support each other. It's a very good environment for people who are just starting out, because everybody is so amazingly nice! They make me feel at home, even though I seem lost in the work. You can always depend on one another here.
What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
I enjoy reading books, painting, and designing. I am passionate about learning different cultures and traditions. I like all different types of sports, such as horseback riding, swimming, and playing tennis.
I also have done lacrosse and field hockey ever since I was in elementary school and was both the founder and coach for the first Korea National Women’s Lacrosse Team. We participated in the World Cup in Prague in 2009!
In 2008, women had never even heard of lacrosse other than it being a very aggressive sport. The country only wanted to support men’s lacrosse, but I wasn’t going to wait for them to support the women, so I helped to create the first South Korea women’s lacrosse team. I was sewing the South Korean flag onto everything! We had to prepare all of it ourselves, from training to travel, but all the women who attended the World Cup are now coaching at universities in South Korea. It’s exciting.